Skip navigation

Money for bricks, but not talent

Globe and Mail Update

University researchers say there isn't enough new funding to close the gap with American universities ...Read the full article

This conversation is closed

  1. Research Advocate from Canada writes: So what are these 1500 new graduate students supposed to do? There is not one red cent for funds to actually conduct research. Just funds to replace infrastructure and offer stipends for 1500 students who can no longer get jobs when they graduate. We may as well pay the students to sit in a library all day. This is not a strategy for investing in the future. It's pork-barreling and vote buying.
  2. Research Advocate from Canada writes: Nearly missed that there is $50 million for the Institute for Quantum Computing. Is that the price for having Mike Lazarides sit on the economic advisory council?
  3. Jim Smiley from Edmonton, writes: What is not mentioned in this story is that the budget has identified $147 million in "savings" (cuts?) in the operating budgets of the three federal research granting agencies, CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC, to be implemented over the next three years (see page 270 of the budget document). CIHR and NSERC provide operating funds for many of the laboratories in Canada's universities. So, as Research Advocate from Canada asks, what are the 1500 new graduate students supposed to do, if the labs that they work in have no money with which to operate?
  4. Jim Smiley from Edmonton, writes: OK, that's better, the updated article now reports the cuts to the federal granting agencies.
  5. Bobby Dy from Canada writes: It's absolutely correct that the message that this sends to scientists is that they should leave for industry or academia elsewhere. More graduate students but less research means more but poorly trained students. Millions more for CFI to put research tools into our research centers but no money to actually use these research tools. This is the height of incompetence.
  6. Bobby Dy from Canada writes: I didn't have an opinion of the new president at the U. of A. before this but if she thinks that what we have here is an investment in talent, then her judgement is as much in question as Flaherty's.
  7. Misery No one from Toronto, Canada writes: Education should be free. Its the back bone of our country. Ya wanna keep people off the streets let em learn.

    Why should only the rich get the richest jobs. I wanna be a dentist I don't wanna be a helper assistant which is all I can afford but wont be a slave to someone else cause the have more money than me.

    If I want the opportunity to learn something I have a passion for its my right to do it without the limitations of money.

    And dont gimme that crap about money, they can find $50 billion to got to some godforsaken country like Afghanistan and tell them they are dong things all wrong. We,, we are the ones doing things all wrong.

    Why should I make a dentist rich cause he had money to make it and I don't.

    Education should be free.
  8. bob london from Canada writes: Do they know anything useful when they are done? Did they take a social science course in how to frustrate management and accomplish nothing? If they have physics, economics, math, statistics, chem or biology there will be no problems but those "liberal" arts students can just move home or try to live on the dole. Do something useful and hard in school. (MBA's are for spoiled brats who's parents are desperate to get them a bank job, useless)
  9. Mike - from Waterloo, Canada writes:
    If the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council is significantly cut this is very bad news indeed. Most of the NSERC grants go towards funding graduate student's salaries. Without such funds there will be a drop in trained scientists and engineers.

    This would be a big mistake, considering that we are trying to move away from a manufacturing economy and move towards one based on research & development and high tech.
  10. Alec Robertson from Canada writes: There has been little R and D in Canada since Mulroney and every PM after him
  11. Andrew Toms from Toronto, Canada writes: The NSERC cut is ridiculous. Just one more reason I'll be putting truth into this article's prediction. I'm leaving my tenured job in Canada for one in the U.S. It's sad to see how uncompetitive our universities are, both in terms of salary and research support. A handful do well (UBC, McGill, Toronto), but the rest don't even operate at a level comparable with a run-of-mill state school.
  12. bill johnson from Quebec, Canada writes: It is clear that the PM does not understand higher education. Providing infrastructure and CFI money, and new scholarships are all targeted at increasing higher enrolment. This is, however, completely and utterly defeated by cuts to research councils. This is disgraceful. About 60-70% of an NSERC grant typically goes to graduate and undergraduate salaries, so what the feds are doing is giving with one hand and taking away with the other. It is depressing to send faculty notices of renewal with a reduced grants even though they and their students have performed well.

    If the Liberals are to target any area for change in the bugdet, this must be it.
  13. scott thomas from Canada writes: Harper's position on science and research follows from Bush's. He fires scientists whose research he opposes on political grounds, he tries his damnest to strip rights from minorities (why do you think Baird's still in the closet in 2009?), some of his ministers believe that people walked the earth with dinosaurs. He's gotta go.
  14. Mark H from United States writes: "The new money for CFI is a sign the government recognizes that “brain power is the best investment,&8221; University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera said."

    Anyone studying science, technology, engineering or math (so-called STEM programs) should get a free ride to any university, period. That would be the best expenditure of federal dollars.
  15. Winston Churchill from London, Canada writes: In case anybody missed it, we are in the midst of a financial crisis, brought on in part because our economic theory is, essentially, all wrong. We have a growing problem with homelessness. More people are resorting to foodbanks daily. Yet some here would seem to suggest that education is only education if numbers get crunched. Here' the thing -- a little money to SSHRC goes a long, long way (political scientists, economists, historians, sociologists) don't need billion dollar atom smashers to make a difference.
  16. Winston Churchill from London, Canada writes: OH! I missed a good one. We're a member of a coalition waging a war it isn't winning, largely because we're stumbling about a foreign country like a bunch of zombies (albeit, not the worst, or most destructive zombies). Is Engineering going to find a solution there?
  17. The Great Gazoo from Zatox, Canada writes: Mark H from United States writes: "Anyone studying science, technology, engineering or math (so-called STEM programs) should get a free ride to any university, period. That would be the best expenditure of federal dollars."

    Mark: Great point. I would add nursing, medicine, and also include the college technology programs and apprenticeships.

    If people wish to study in programs where there are no jobs now, and there will be few jobs in the future (poly-sci, history, art, sociology, etc.) then let them do it on their own dime. Our universities are poor because 1/2 of the kids studying are in the liberal arts where the job prospects are few and far between upon graduation.
  18. D D from writes: This move is just insane. Build buildings but provide no support for people to occupy them. It is time for Harper and Flaherty to go as far away as possible and let the adults run things. While they are at it, they should take the Presidents of CIHR and NSERC with them. They have failed miserably in advocating for their constituencies.
  19. Winston Churchill from London, Canada writes: Gazoo. A couple of comments. First, Social Science, Arts and Humanities students already pay their own way. Any money the gov't provides is milked off support the sciences, engineering etc. You'll have trouble finding the figures, but ask somebody who works in a University.

    Secondly, what are these 'jobs of the future'? You are a victim of old think man. Vocational counsellors at the moment aren't so sure. They've been badly bitten in the past. In the 90s, they sent everybody into engineering and computer training. Do you know what happened? Ask a Nortel employee. Otherwise, a shortage became a glut, while industry discovered that an Engineer or programmer in India would do the same job for one tenth the pay. Most the Engineers and computer wonks I know are collecting pogue.

    Everybody loves Colleges, but we already graduate FOUR TIMES (according to a recent MacLeans survey) the number of college techs as we create jobs requiring their skills. No guarantee here whatsoever.

    Many vocational counsellors, in fact, will direct undergrads to Social Science, or Arts and Humanities as the best bet. Here they learn general skills, most to wear well, while accepting the fact that they will probably have to train to some specific function to succeed post graduation. Even business, my friend -- recent article in the Financial Post indicated that businesses were picking up generalists, because Comms guys demanded too much, and were too well prepared in all the wrong ways.
  20. Joe V from Canada writes: I can't believe that they are cutting NSERC funding again. They managed to waste money on hundreds of useless items in this budget, but couldn't spare a $100 million investment in science? As other people have noted, what is the point of increasing the number of graduate scholarships if there is no money for their research? If you want a glut of poorly trained graduate students with nothing to do, what a great idea.
  21. Joe V from Canada writes: I can't believe that they are cutting NSERC funding again. They managed to waste money on hundreds of useless items in this budget, but couldn't spare a $100 million investment in science? As other people have noted, what is the point of increasing the number of graduate scholarships if there is no money for their research? If you want a glut of poorly trained graduate students with nothing to do, what a great idea.
  22. P Martin from St. John's, Canada writes: Harper is worse for research and development than Bush was. Disgusting to see such a regressive and short-sighted bully, with about the same amount of brain cells. Where more progressive societies see the value of education and research, Harper sees it as a waste of money. Get rid of Harper!
  23. Edward Palys from Pickering, Canada writes: My, oh my. When we have so many groups at the government's doorstep for handouts, how can we satisfy them all? There is free education up to a limit, which is quite adequate for the foreseeable future job market. Higher education is the responsibility of the individual. With the present scientific communitie's enormous price tags, especially for equipment, how can we expect tax dollars to pay for these things? There is something out of balance when one expects 90% taxpayers to pay for less than 10% research education that, most of the time, leads to a dead end. How much of that higher education does one use in their present job? How many engineers do we see driving taxis for a living? Do we not rely on the expectancy of a cushy job through higher education? Present times suggest that one has to 'work' for a living no matter what the background.
  24. Bobby Dy from Canada writes: Edward Palys, there is no enormous price tag for science. The people working in research laboratories, from top to bottom, are not making the kinds of salaries that are consistent with their education level. They are paid adequately (a research technician salary starts around $40K per year in most parts of the country). Most of the dollars in research grants go to support the salaries of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research associates and research technicians.

    On the equipment side, this country is no longer behind the international community in terms of equipment. That high tech equipment, however, is a complete waste of dollars if there is no research funding to make use of that equipment. CIHR and NSERC have already suffered under this government. What the government is asking for is for the best and the brightest to leave. Salary dollars won't keep them here. Funding for their research is the only thing that will. That funding for research dollars is what leads to the IP that industry buys and develops into products. Without the basic research, there is no private sector developing new technologies and treatments.
  25. Andrew Toms from Toronto, Canada writes: @ Winston Churchill:

    Canada has no billion dollar atom smashers, and its science budget is miniscule compared to Europe and the U.S. And yes, we won't win in Afghanistan. Alexander the Great said that "You cannot conquer Persia. You can only pass through it." On the other hand, the idea that some sufficiently clever Social Science professor will end the conflict is hare-brained.
  26. Kim Morton from Canada writes:
    Misery No one from Toronto, Canada writes: Education should be free. Its the back bone of our country. Ya wanna keep people off the streets let em learn.
    That would depend on exactly what line of education is being pursued. Medicine, Engineering, trades and pure science perhaps, with a guarantee to work in Canada for at least ten years to recoup our investment. Studying foreign literature and archeology no.
    There is absolutely nothing stopping you from becoming a dentist except a lack of ambition.
  27. J Smith from Canada writes: I'm currently completing a dual graduate degree while working full time. I was hoping that my skills would add to Canada's competitive advantage (in a very small part of course) and of course benefit me as well.

    Is Canada encouraging their citizens to become Global competitors....ummm no.

    I continue to pay taxes, receive no benefits and the granting institutions as simply BS (go check them out on the web).

    I apologize for being employed and trying.
  28. Research Advocate from Canada writes: The government must be utterly ignorant of the situation in Canadian research. Charities, that support a variety of disease-related causes are facing huge decreases in fund-raising. Many university and hospital foundation endowments have been decimated and face significant decreases in interest revenues. Cumulatively, these changes will wipe out 20-30% of available funds for research. This is simply intolerable and will result in massive contractions at a time when many kids are going back to graduate school in the hope of gaining more skills. If previous history is anything to go by, the funding councils will try to maintain their success rates at some sustenance level that will mean the best ideas are severely underfunded. None of this makes any sense for a forward-looking country. But that is the problem, the government is incapable of looking beyond the next two years.
  29. Phineas freekinstone from where liberals do not venture, Canada writes: I feel Ishould have the right to study my navel in the finest college that the poor working stiffs can buy me. I can then move on and teach others the fine art of doing as little as possible for max income.With a few extra grants i could also do this in any one dozens of ancient languageS.
  30. M K from GTA, Canada writes: What about people like me? I am a double graduate with an MBA in Finance which didn't have equivalance here. To remedy that I got myself an MBA from one of the prestigious programs here. Superimpose this on over 20 years of relevant industry experience (including 7 years of "Canadian expereince") - result - have been unemployed or underemployed for the last 2 years and a huge loan to repay.

    So again the question what about me - does this budget help me with my loan? What about the numerous foreign trained professionals who find themselves employed in menial jobs? I believe there should be reservation of jobs for visible minorities & new immigrants and a compliance audit of all employers (incl governement - the federal govt. requirement of bilingulaism is discriminatory). This will ensure the citizens attaining the pinnacle of success and in turn lead Canada from its mediocre morasse to global excellence!
  31. Phineas freekinstone from where liberals do not venture, Canada writes: MK from GTA.........not to make fun of you but isn't your field of study what got the world in the mess it is today?maybe there are too many MBA's of finiance already screwing the economys of the world?
  32. Bob F from T.O., Canada writes: Does anybody realize that this budget has nothing to do with right and wrong? It was simply produced with the soul purpose of buying votes.
  33. M K from GTA, Canada writes: Dear Phineas - I too don't mean to insult you, but I believe it was the ignorance of people such as you that brought about this mess!

    The mess was brought about not by qualifications but attributes such as greedy bankers, indifferent governments and ignorant population!

  34. Uri Heuer from Canada writes: it is clear that the pm is a snivelling, vote buying, lapdog with absolutely no vision other than appealing to the larger, less intelligent demographic of his electorate while he sells out the country. Similar to George bush, Harper patronizes the weak-minded majority, using their stupidity as a weapon against those who he isn't colluding with for his own gain. Treasonous jackass.
  35. Ken Buchanan from Canada writes: How about using some of that money to forgive student loans? Loans are needed so 'normal' people can afford to go to school, but can't get ahead after because so much of the income goes towards debt. The government wants people to 'spend' thier way out of a poor economy? How about helping the people that tried to better themselves and the country.
  36. Ken Buchanan from Canada writes: A couple ideas for student loans - either have 5 years after you graduate to be interest free, or have the payments (not just the interest) tax deductible. This would at least give students a fighting chance.
  37. In Edmonton from Canada writes: It's a shame when you find out that someone like Indira Samarasekera at the University of Alberta thinks that cuts to the funding councils is a good thing. If she is thinking that this budget means that "brain power is the best investment" them maybe it is time for her to plug in the brain recharger and so she can think about how universities run. The Tri-Council grants are what runs research. The Canadian Foundation for Innovation are big purchases for a very small number of researchers.
  38. Winston Churchill from London, Canada writes: Andrew Toms. Might be that Canada science budget is miniscule. Wonder how it provision for anything else academic stacks up? And, as I say, Social Science and Humanities students at least pay their way.

    Do you think that an Engineer will provide a solution for what ails us now? I think its the math wonks who've landed us where we are.

    Lastly, point of fact. Nobody knows what Alexander the Great said. Things are attributed to him. Another point of fact: he did conquer Persia (and most of Afghanistan). Hellenistic Bactria (Western Afghanistan) endured for centuries after he was gone.
  39. Andrew Toms from Toronto, Canada writes: @ Winston Churchill

    Given that huge chunks of the present fiscal stimulus are slated for infrastructure, I guess it is the engineers who will be digging us out of this mess. Literally.
  40. J Hare from Canada writes: Research Advocate, no they are going back to school because there is no real jobs avaliable to them so its better socially and politically to be a student then it is to be unemployed and possibly homeless. Second point is the degree creep instituted by Universities (what in the name of all that is holy is a PHD in fine arts?) to ensure repeat customers has diminished both the quality and the value of the degrees that are awarded.

    James Hare
  41. Edward Palys from Pickering, Canada writes: We cannot generalize research to mean productive goals. Some research by post-graduate fellows is indeed very worthy. Unfortunately, we hear about so many researched topics which are totally unproductive to the betterment of society that overall it beckons a cut to this sector. It makes one wonder, also, when much money is spent on reasearch projects that are on-going for many years without a solution in sight. I am in favor of spending on research, but limit it to an attainable solution. Research, as well as science, should also be open-minded beyond theoretical work. Maybe this is where the question of funding should be focused.
  42. Research Advocate from Canada writes: Many of the highest impact discoveries have been made with no pre-conceived ideas of how they might be applied. There is certainly a role for applied research and this is likely best done in the private sector where product development can be rapid. However, no company is willing to invest in blue sky ideas, even though these lead to new technologies and insights that drive commercialization. This is the role of government. However, the funding needs to be solely based on excellence/merit, needs to be sustained (with evidence of productivity via high quality publications) and not directed by an administrator. The scientific process has served modern society well and has led to prosperity, better health and quality of life. Over the past decade, Canada has significantly improved its global status but such progress is fickle. We will lose our best minds if they believe they can find jurisdictions that value their work and don't require them to put up and shut up.
  43. Winston Churchill from London, Canada writes: Andrew: I kind of view the thing as a way of funnelling money to the building trades, while pretending that you care about higher education. At the end of the day, the Engineers, Nurses and Political Scientists will all be SOL.

Comments are closed

Thanks for your interest in commenting on this article, however we are no longer accepting submissions. If you would like, you may send a letter to the editor.

Report an abusive comment to our editorial staff


Alert us about this comment

Please let us know if this reader’s comment breaks the editor's rules and is obscene, abusive, threatening, unlawful, harassing, defamatory, profane or racially offensive by selecting the appropriate option to describe the problem.

Do not use this to complain about comments that don’t break the rules, for example those comments that you disagree with or contain spelling errors or multiple postings.

Back to top